To Cry It Out or Not to Cry It Out: How to End Friendships and Incite Riots

[Baby Watch: Day 185]

After receiving loving criticism from friends and family about the lack of blogs in the past month, I have decided to share 6 stories in (approximately) 6 days to celebrate Baby Oliver’s 6 month birthday.

Story #2

To Cry It Out or Not to Cry It Out: How to End Friendships and Incite Riots

I hesitate to even mention this topic, as it is likely to cause total verbal warfare between otherwise totally rational adult parents. Whoever you are, your opinion is 100% fact, and everyone else is wrong, and that’s all there is to it.

It’s insane to me that I can read two articles, both by world renown baby experts, and have them be so laughably contrary. One advises parents to essentially lock their kids in a cage in the basement and wear earmuffs for a full day so you can’t hear your heathen children screaming. Another tells parents to let your perfect angel children sleep on your face, breathing your night breath as a way to get more in sync as a family unit. I literally watched back-to-back YouTube videos with blue-in-the-face doctors howling the EXACT SAME SENTENCE to support their TOTALLY OPPOSITE points.

“If you love your child, the most compassionate way to get a good night’s sleep is to” . . . PICK THEM UP . . . LET THEM CRY IT OUT . . . SHOWER THEM WITH LOVE . . . RIP THE BAND-AID OFF FAST . . . STARE INTO THEIR SKY BLUE EYEBALLS AND REASSURE THEM UNTIL YOU HEAR ANGELS SING . . . CREATE A CACOPHONY OF AIR HORNS AND WOMBAT SCREECHES SO THEY GET USED TO SLEEPING THROUGH ANYTHING . . .

It’s like the blue dress phenomena. Remember that? (“Topical Jokes” is my middle name. It was Ryan, but I changed it.) Some people saw a black and blue dress and couldn’t fathom anything else; some saw white and gold and were positive they were right. It took me a week to finally believe that my wife wasn’t just trying to pull a practical joke on me. She got our friends and family to weigh in. She sent me picture after picture of a blue and black dress from Twitter. It was the least funny practical joke of all time. I couldn’t understand why she kept on insisting it was white and gold. Like, what is the payoff Kristen?

Anyhow, that’s how the “cry it out” debate seems to me: you are right and everyone who disagrees is a dullard who takes pleasure in the misery of children. But what I have finally realized is that . . . the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. Some kids learn quickly when you let them cry it out. Some get even more upset and need compassion. It’s just dumb to insist that every kid is the same, with no exceptions. Of course, I have only come to that conclusion after a month of trial and error and error and error and error and error and error and error and error and error and error and error and error and error and error and error.

After getting fed up with Oliver’s increasing insistence that we feed him overnight (the gall!), we decided something needed to be done. (He had been waking up once per night, but it increased to twice, then thrice, and by his 5 month birthday he was waking up as much as he did during his first week home.) So, Kristen read a multitude of books (which gave us no less than 20 different suggestions on how to get Oliver to sleep soundly), and we both jumped through all kinds of hoops . . . and, amazingly, eventually he started sleeping better.

For us, it was less of having him cry it out (not that we are opposed, we just wanted to try other things first), and more of gradually training him to eat / need less and less food overnight. Technically, it’s called “night weaning.” (Totally unrelated, but my new Twitter handle is definitely gunna be @NightWean.) (Totally unrelated, but I’ve already named our next dog Nightsy McWean.) (Totally unrelated, but I’m super stoked for the next Batman movie, The Dark Night Weanie.)

With night weaning, basically, you give the kid a little less formula each night until you get down to only one feeding that is only an ounce or two, then you gradually decrease the amount of formula, so you’re basically giving them just an ounce of water or so. Eventually (for us it was a few weeks), their body will just stop waking them up, because the subconscious need to feed will be gone. (I call verbal trademark on Zombie Apocalypse: Need to Feed. It’s a manuscript I’m working on under the pen name “Nightsy McWean.)

He still wakes up every now and then, and he doesn’t nap as well as we’d like (a whole other future blog . . . perhaps . . . I mean, a guy can only write a reader can only tolerate so many sleep stories), but for now we’re getting a relatively reasonable amount of sleep again. The down side is, Oliver is much more energetic during the day. I was under the false assumption that he’d be a motionless blob for the first couple of years. But more often than not, instead of this:

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we get this:

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